Seattle’s Best City Tours
Tours Northwest offers Seattle city tours in two different lengths; the shorter 3 hour driving tour all takes place within the bus, with guides pointing out local highlights and history, while the 6 hour Day Tour (available in the summer months) includes a trip up the Space Needle and two hours in Pike Place Market. Their passenger coaches are clean, comfortable, and air-conditioned, and guides are super friendly and accommodating. Tours Northwest also offers Boeing Factory tours, Mount Rainier day tours, and pre/post-Alaska cruise tours that include transportation and baggage handling.
Tours pick up and drop off at all downtown hotels.
This photo-centric four-hour tour is a great way to learn the history and layout of Seattle, as well as venture outside the city to scenic Snoqualmie falls. Knowledgable guides know all the best photo stops, and their tips and tricks will ensure that your vacation photos are suitably wow-worthy. (No fancy SLR required, even a disposable can capture some great shots with a little guidance.) Seattle/Snoqualmie tours run daily year-round, except during the month of April, when the company shuttles aspiring photographers north into the Skagit River Valley for the stunning and colorful Tulip Festival. No meals are included in the price of the tour, but water and light snacks are available, as well as food for purchase along the way.
Tours depart from Pike Place Market but will pick up at downtown hotels by request.
The popular Kids Tour by walking tour company, Seattle by Foot, is a great way to explore downtown Seattle with kids 10 and under. Fun guides (sometimes with their own children working alongside them as “junior tour guides”) keep kids interested and the pace brisk. Along with other stops, you’ll explore Pike Place Market, get a kids’ eye view of Seattle’s public art and architecture, and even make a masterpiece at Seattle Art Museum. Tours are private (priced per family), last approximately two hours, and can be customized to accommodate all different ages and interests.
Tours depart from Pike Place Market.
These things scream “I’m a tourist,” but they’re fun to ride and easier to master than they appear. Zip around town on these electronic marvels of transportation, covering much more ground than you could on foot. Small group Segway tours of two to eight people begin just south of downtown, traveling along the waterfront, up through Pioneer Square and Pike Place Market, over to Seattle Center and the Space Needle, and down through Myrtle Edwards waterfront park – all in under two hours. Tours run year-round, rain or shine. No experience is necessary and there’s no age limit, though tours are recommended for people aged 12 and up.
Tours depart from 214 Alaskan Way South, near Pioneer Square.
A fascinating introduction to Seattle Native People’s History. 4 hours in total, the trip begins with a beautiful 45-minute boat cruise to Blake Island. There you’re treated to a Pacific Northwest-inspired buffet with alder wood-smoked salmon, and stories and dance from Coast Salish tribe members – all in a traditional Native longhouse. Afterward, stick around to poke about the museum and gift shop, or explore the trails of beautiful Blake Island State Park. The combination of boat cruise, meal, and entertainment make this a great deal for the price. Excursions run from April through September, but July onward is your best chance for pleasant weather. Book early – these tours sell out, and an early-booking discount is offered more than 28 days in advance.
Tours depart from Pier 55 on Seattle’s downtown waterfront.
These volunteer-led downtown walking tours are organized around such architectural themes as Northwest Art Deco Skyscrapers, Design Details, and Hidden Spaces in Public Places. No previous experience with architecture is required; you’ll learn as you go – not only about the buildings, but about the city and its history, as well. Tours run year-round, rain or shine (but only on Saturdays in the winter months). Outside of downtown, SAF also leads tours in the neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, South Lake Union, as well as the University of Washington campus. Not recommended for children under 12.
Tours depart from various locations, check website for details.
This concert hall is home to the Seattle Symphony and is renowned for its award-winning architecture and technology-infused acoustical properties. Free public tours of Benaroya Hall are offered on various dates year-round (check the website for schedule.) Two tours are offered: an abbrevaited tour at noon, and a full tour at 1pm. Both tours are scheduled in conjunction with a free recital and demonstration of Benaroya’s famous Watjen Concert Organ at 12:30. Reservations are not required for individuals or groups of fewer than 10.
Tours depart from Benaroya’s Grand Lobby entrance at the corner of 34d Avenue and University Street.
The Seattle Art Museum’s permanent collection is impressive; a hodge-podge of Egyptian, African, Native American, Asian, European, pop, and contemporary works, as well as a fantastic variety of world-class touring exhibits – and free tours are available with museum admission. Some tours focus on a single gallery, while some highlight the favorite works of SAM’s curators, visual artists, and critics. Most tours are 30 minutes, though special exhibition tours are more in depth and run about an hour in length. SAM even offers monthly Art Beyond Sight tours for visitors with low or no vision. Check the calendar for upcoming tour schedules.
Tours meet at various locations inside the museum.
This great museum, focused on the Pacific Northwest’s immigrant communities, is located in Seattle’s International district, and their fantastic walking tours are a great way to explore this diverse neighborhood. The Historic Hotel Tour takes you into a 1910 general store and through a series of staged rooms that show how different populations lived when they first came to our city. There are also seasonal food tours, a Bruce Lee-themed tour, and a tour that takes readers to the sites in the popular novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, about a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl struggling through the times of WWII internment camps. Tour prices include all-day museum admission.
Tours depart from The Wing Luke Museum at 719 South King Street.
Ballard’s Hiram M. Chittenden Locks help boats get from salty Puget Sound to freshwater Lake Union (and vice versa) while maintaining the water level of Lake Union at 20 to 22 feet above sea level. Its Fish Ladder does the same thing for spawning salmon, allowing them to return to the lakes and rivers around Seattle. Free one-hour guided tours are given daily at the Locks from March through November at 2pm. Reservations are not required.
Tours depart from the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks Visitor Center.
The Olympic Sculpture Park is a branch of Seattle Art Museum located along Seattle’s downtown waterfront, just downhill from Seattle Center. It’s home to a great collection of modern works by contemporary artists: most notably, Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, and Louise Bourgeois. Besides boasting an impressive collection, the Sculpture Park is one of downtown Seattle’s few green spaces, set amid picturesque views of the sound, mountains, and ferries. Admission is free, and hour-long public tours are offered at 1pm on weekends from April through November. Check the SAM events calendar for details.
Tours depart from the Sculpture Park’s Paccar Pavilion.
Seattle’s Best Offbeat Tours
Any fan of 90’s grunge music will love this tour, which visits locations relevant to such bands and artists as Pearl Jam, Nirvana/Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Alice in Chains, and more. Aside from the city’s music history, tour guide Charity provides a solid overview of the city layout. Small and personal tours are capped at five passengers, and last about 2 1/2 hours.
Tours depart from MoPOP at Seattle Center, under the Space Needle.
For an in-depth look at local marijuana commerce and culture, check out Kush Tourism’s Seattle Kush Tour. Their friendly and professional guides take you behind the scenes to explore this evolving industry – from seed to shop – with those in the know. Tour groups are small (up to 6 people), and begin and end at a studio space in south Seattle, where you’ll be treated to a pipe-blowing demonstration. You’ll visit and tour Dawg Star Cannabis, one of the Seattle’s premiere licensed grow facilities, and a production facility where extractions and edibles are produced. Finally, you’ll put your new-found knowledge into practice at one of the city’s best retail shops. Kush Tourism also offers private tours, as well as a Cannabis & Spirits Experience tour, which visits a grow facility and a local distillery. Age 21+
Tours depart from Boro School of Glass, at 1300 South Dearborn Street.
Seattle Stadium Tours
14. T-Mobile Park
T-Mobile Park is home to the Seattle Mariners Major League Baseball team. Tours of the stadium are about an hour long, and include private suites, the visitor’s clubhouse, the press box, the field, and both team dugouts. Tickets can be purchased through their website in advance, or pick them up at the Team Store shortly before the tour is scheduled to depart. Wheelchair/stroller accessible.
Tours depart from the stadium’s Team Store on First Avenue.
CenturyLink Field is the home stadium of both the Seattle Seahawks football team and the Seattle Sounders FC. Stadium tours last about 90 minutes, visiting the field, visitor’s locker room, press box, private suites, and the famous 12th Man flagpole. Tickets can be purchased at the Downtown Pro Shop (at 4th and Pike) and the NW Box Office (off Occidental) – they sell out quickly and cannot be purchased by phone or online, so it’s recommended that you get there at least a half hour before the tour is scheduled to start. It’s also a good idea to call ahead to confirm the tour schedule, as tours aren’t given on event days. Wheelchair/stroller accessible.
Tours depart from the Stadium Pro Shop off Occidental Avenue.
16. Husky Stadium
The University of Washington’s Husky football team plays at this picturesque campus stadium, northeast of downtown in Seattle’s University District. Sitting directly on the shores of Lake Washington, with the Cascade Mountains and Mount Rainier in the distance, Husky Stadium has been called “the greatest setting in college football.” Highlights of the stadium tour are a visit to the Husky Hall of Fame, traveling down the football tunnel out onto the field, and seeing parts of the stadium that the public doesn’t get to see. Tours are given every Tuesday and Thursday at 2pm, and last about an hour to an hour and a half – reserve a spot online in advance at least five business days in advance.
Tours depart from Alaska Airlines Arena (Hec Ed. Pavilion), at 3870 Montlake Boulevard NE.
Seattle’s Best Local Industry Tours
This 90-minute enormous factory tour, located 25 miles north of Seattle in Everett, Washington, is a must-see for anyone interested in aviation, and many people’s favorite Seattle attraction. After an informative video introduction, walk the floors of this enormous plant and see 747, 777, and 787 Dreamliners in production. If you lack a car, there are many local tour companies that will pick you up at your hotel. Tours are given daily, year-round. Reservations should be made in advance, as these tours frequently sell out. While booking, please notify the tour company of any mobility issues, so they can plan ahead. Children must be at least 4 feet tall.
8415 Paine Field Boulevard, Mukilteo, WA
The online mega-retailer, Amazon, is not only a local company, but the single largest private employer in Seattle. Visit their vast and pet-friendly South Lake Union campus and see this tech-industry behemoth in action. These free tours last approximately 90 minutes and are given on Wednesdays, at 10am and 2pm. You’ll need to register well in advance, as these tours are popular and do book out. Ages 6 and up, please. If you’re not able to secure a spot, Amazon offers a free audio tour through Audible.com.
Filson has created rugged outdoor clothing and goods out of Seattle for over a century, and provides complimentary tours of the manufacturing facility housed within their beautiful new Flagship store in SoDo. Walk the factory floor and see their expert craftspeople turn raw materials into high-quality garments, bags and gear. Tours are offered at 10am on Tuesdays and 1:30pm every Thursdays, RSVP on the website to secure your spot. 12 and over, please.
1741 First Avenue South
If you’re a fan of the worldwide GPS-based scavenger hunt, then this is the Mothership. Just pop in during their weekday drop-in hours (Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm) to log the coveted HQ cache, get exclusive swag, and meet the Lackeys who make it all happen. It’s all free. After your visit, take the GeoTour, a fun 9-stop multi geocache within walking distance of HQ. Note that, due to high visitor volume in a small office space, visits between August 14 and September 8 must be registered in advance.
837 N 34th St, Suite 300
A delightful surprise and very kid-friendly. Just across the street from Seattle Center, the Gates Foundation Visitor Center explores the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, its philosophy, and the best ways to improve health and education around the world. The theme of exhibits often returns to two questions: What does it take to change the world? How can each of us make a difference? The center is a lot more fun than it might sound and there’s a fair bit of hands-on exploration. Plus, it’s free, so easy to drop in for as long or as little as you want. Open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-5pm, with public tours offered at 2pm.
440 Fifth Avenue North